Salem MOM | April / May 2023

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real local moms Salem | Apr / May 2023 since 2005

When it Comes to Your Family, We Deliver.

Whether you need a routine checkup or are pregnant and seeking a midwife or OB to deliver your baby, Santiam Hospital and Clinics will meet your needs.

Dr. Renard received her medical degree from University of Nebraska College of Medicine and completed her residency at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is board certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Melissa Sheffield received her nurse midwife degree from Frontier School of Midwifery & Family Nursing in Hyden, Kentucky. She is a Member of the American College of Nurse Midwives, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Dr. Dunham received her medical degree from University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, Utah and completed her residency training at Ventura County Medical Center, Ventura, California. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

• Personalized pre-natal care

• Birthing rooms offering numerous amenities, including private in-room labor tubs

• Delivery by your OB Team in Santiam Hospital’s state-of-the-art birthing center

• Compassionate, Highly-Trained LDRNs, Labor Tubs, OHSU NICU Telemedicine Support

Birth Center Tours are first Tuesday of every month at 6:00pm. Visit our website at

1401 N 10th Ave., Stayton · 503.769.2175
Santiam Hospital & Clinics accept all insurance including all Medicare Plans, OHP, Kaiser Permanente & Blue Cross 1373 N 10th Ave., Stayton · 503.769.9522 114 SE Church St., Sublimity · 503.769.2259 3 Home decor & more 28 Lunch box blues 24 So you want to write a book… 20 Advertise today Want to get the word out about your business? Contact Kim Leighty at lovemommag We love hearing from you. Email us with feedback, story ideas or nominations. More ways to love your MOM what‘s inside It’s that counts Meet the MOM experts ... 4 They know what they’re talking about. Because I said so 5 A message from MOM Healthy MOM ................... 6 Childhood obesity Cover MOM: Monika Duke .................. 12 This mom gets real. So you want to write a book..................... 20 Lunch box blues ............. 24 Home decor & more ..... 28 What’s trending in/out


Support for Families with Audrey Benson, page 8

the experts


Pets are Family with Dr. Emily Kalenius, page 11


Healthy MOM with Santiam Hospital, page 6


Focus with Dr. Alton Rossman, page 10


On the Road with Laura Augustine, page 26

[They know what they’re talking about] meet
Once you sign on to be a mother, 24/7 is the only shift they offer.
– Jodi Picoult

Because I said so!

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MOM MagazineTM is produced by GO Creative, LLC. © 2023

All rights reserved. Any reproduction, in whole or part, without written permission of the publisher, is prohibited. Information in the magazine is provided for general information purposes only with the understanding that none of the content constitutes professional advice.

Opinions expressed by the writers or advertisers are not necessarily the opinions of the magazine or the publisher. Inclusion in the magazine does not constitute endorsement of information, products or services.

For decades in my writing career, the phrase “grow a thicker skin” has been bandied about as the only way to protect yourself from the soul-crushing rejections of a tough industry. One must go through these rites of initiation, I was told time and again, to become a real writer. Take your licks. Get knocked about by the industry until you’re as hardened as an armadillo. In my 20s and 30s, I drank the Kool-aid of this maxim, constantly berating myself to toughen up, not take it so personally, let all of it roll off my back… But there’s a big fat flaw inherent in this that didn’t gel in my mind until my mid-40s, and it came up while working on this issue’s article, “So you want to write a book.” The ideology of “it was rough for me, so it should be rough for you too” has unpleasant notes of damaging, bro-built culture. It all smacks of hazing.

And it’s rampant in many many industries, not just creative ones. For decades in physician training, working 100+ hour weeks was the gauntlet new doctors had to run, all while maintaining an unemotional mask. This was terrible for patients, workers and basically everyone. No one wants an exhausted robot doctor.

I’ve been called sensitive all my life and made to feel less than for it. But here’s the thing: it’s my super power. My thin skin is exactly what allows me to understand the motivation of a person or character. Why should I feel less when my very business as a writer is to feel and then translate those feelings into words and stories? It’s the very essence of authenticity. In fact, that authenticity is good for all occupations, if you ask me. It’s called humanity.

The ones who buy into the tear-you-down first, then build-yourself-upagain mentality? Hurt people hurt people. Teach your kids to reject it. Even Elsa gave up on the conceal-don’t-feel bit.

If you’re like me, you do not need a thicker skin. What we do need is to stop feeding the outdated, harmful psychology of that phrase. Keep your thin skin. It’s perfect. 5
You don’t need a thicker skin

Childhood obesity

As adults, we’re aware of the toll a desk-bound lifestyle can take on our bodies and mental health. A relatively new phenomenon, though, is the increasingly sedentary habits of children and young adults. Combined with poor diet, it’s leading to a rise in childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity is a growing concern in the United States, with about 20,000 cases diagnosed each year.

Currently, obesity in children is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) in the 95th percentile or above. BMI is calculated using one’s height, weight and age and therefore does not require further testing in order to diagnose obesity. That said, a provider may choose to check cholesterol, thyroid and blood sugar because these can be higher in people with obesity, including children. High cholesterol

and diabetes are conditions associated with obesity and should be addressed immediately.

The lack of children’s physical activity has roots in the evolving way young people interact with information, each other and the world. Phones, video games and even the disappearance of physical education from schools all have physical impacts that must be intentionally addressed.

Childhood obesity is usually diagnosed in ages 8 to 16, but need not be a lifelong condition if addressed early. The


condition is caused by a combination of factors that may include a history of obesity in their parents, lack of access to healthy food and lack of regular exercise. For children, obesity can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, such as:

• Type 2 diabetes

• Metabolic syndrome

• High cholesterol and high blood pressure

• Asthma

• Obstructive sleep apnea

• Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

• Low self-esteem

• Anxiety

• Depression

If untreated, these conditions can last chronically into adulthood. The good news is that lifestyle changes are often the most effective treatment for obesity in young people, rather than medication or surgery which are often employed in adult cases. Children are generally treated by following a weight management and exercise regimen that allows them to grow taller without adding more weight (and thereby influencing BMI in a positive manner.)

Of course, the best way to treat any condition is to take steps not to get it in the first place, especially when it is one that is heavily dictated by lifestyle and behavioral choices.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Parents can model good habits by eating healthy, mostly plant-based meals and incorporating physical exercise into family life. These are behaviors, along with managing stress and forming healthy relationships, that children can take into adulthood to stave off many chronic illnesses when put into regular practice.

Brought to you by: 7
Parents can model good habits that children can take into adulthood. | 1.888.360.0360

Sitter Success

Training a new babysitter can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re leaving your little ones in someone else’s care for the first time. But you deserve a night (or more) off, where you can eat dinner before it goes cold and no one uses you as a human napkin.

A little planning goes a long way to ease everyone’s minds when it comes to a new babysitter. A few tips... Clearly communicate your expectations, specific instructions and rules you have for your children, including bedtime routines, screen time preferences, household safety, etc. Providing a written list of instructions can be helpful, as it ensures that nothing is missed. Take some time to familiarize the babysitter with your home and any off-limits areas. I always take this opportunity to show the babysitter where the only-after-the-kidsgo-to-bed snacks are located.

Provide your sitter with your contact information and where you’ll be going. I always leave the basics: my number, the neighbor’s number and emergency contact information. And mom, remember to fully charge your phone and check it periodically, especially if it’s going to be a late night out.

Finally, consider the first time you’re working with a new babysitter as a trial run. I do this a few times to gauge their skills, trustworthiness and character. If it’s not a good fit, don’t hesitate to find a better care provider for your family. It’s important to trust your instincts and choose someone you feel comfortable with and confident in.

Training a new babysitter takes a bit of preparation and communication, but it’s worth it for the occasional childfree date night.

If you’re needing additional training assistance with a care provider, leave all the heavy lifting to our Direct Support Career Academy. We offer courses on a wide variety of support skills, specializing in positive, personcentered approaches to meet the needs of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

Brought to you by:

KIDS NW connects families with compassionate caregivers, specially trained in serving individuals with disabilities.

support for family 9

Feast your eyes

Your eyes, like the rest of your body, need vitamins and nutrients for optimal performance. Eating a well-balanced diet strengthens your sight and reduces your risk of developing eye problems like macular degeneration, cataracts and other eye diseases.

Aim to include in your diet fish rich in fatty acids like salmon, tuna and sardines, and a variety of vegetables like spinach, kale and collards for lutein. Good sources of protein like nuts, beans and eggs are excellent additions to your diet, and your eyes will thank you.

Orange-colored vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots give your eyes critical vitamin A, which your retina needs to take in light that allows us to see images. Vitamin C from oranges, tangerines and peaches are also fantastic for eye health.

All these nutritious foods are more than beneficial for your eyes: they’re heart-healthy. That’s because your eyes rely on tiny arteries for nutrients and oxygen, much like your heart uses larger arteries in the same way. Eating well is an overall health win.

Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology

1594 Edgewater St NW STE 190, Salem 503-779-2119 |
Brought to you by: Alton Rossman, OD


When we see those red, oozing, painful, bald, itchy lesions on our dog’s skin, we know something isn’t right. But what can we do about it, how can we prevent it, and should we be worried that those sores are a sign of a more serious medical problem?

When dogs chew, itch or scratch an area of their coat, inflammation occurs and sometimes a bacterial infection can develop. This in turn creates more skin irritation — and more itching and scratching.

The underlying cause of the irritation could be a flea bite, an allergy, contact irritants, dirty and matted coats, or even boredom and stress. Identifying and addressing the underlying cause is important to prevent future hot spots.

Some breeds are more prone to hot spots, such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Retrievers. Dogs with a penchant for being around water are also more susceptible due to trapped moisture.

While you may think a hot spot will self-resolve, without addressing the underlying cause your pet will continue to have recurrent issues. Hot spots are painful and damaging to the skin, so addressing them with your veterinarian’s guidance in a timely fashion is prudent.

As for treating a particular hot spot, your veterinarian will likely clip away the hair, clean the area and prescribe topical or oral antibiotics, steroids or other anti-inflammatory medication. If the underlying cause is an allergy, your veterinarian may prescribe an allergy medication.

Home care after the veterinarian visit typically involves cleaning with medicated wipes and application of a spray. An “e-collar” is generally used to prevent your pet from continuing to scratch or itch the affected area. Typically, the hot spot will heal within three days to a week of treatment.

To prevent future hot spots, you must identify and treat the underlying issue. This could include managing allergies, good hygiene and grooming, drying coats thoroughly after swimming and increasing daily exercise (to reduce stress and boredom).

Treating the hot spot is easy enough for your veterinarian, and after a little sleuthing, you can reasonably address the likely underlying causes and prevent future issues...and make for a happier, more comfortable pup.

pets are family
to you
Wilvet Salem 120 Ramsgate Square S | | (503) 741-8858 Open 24/7
by: Emily Kalenius, DVM 11

Monika Duke

PROFESSION: Executive assistant at Capitol Auto Group

HUSBAND: Darin Duke, financial advisor for Edward Jones

DAUGHTERS: Lauren, age 18, and Morgan, age 17 |




Family comes first.

All families are unique. Tell us about yours. I’m from the Midwest, from a small town in Iowa. I went to school at Iowa State and my first job after college took me to St. Louis to work at the headquarters of Edward Jones Investments. I met my husband, Darin, while we were both in the same training program. Darin is from Eugene. While we were dating, it took just one trip out to Oregon to see the beauty for me to want to live here.

After we were married, we settled in Salem. I went to work for Capitol Auto Group shortly after relocating, and I’ve been with the company for 21 years. We have two girls: Lauren, who’s 18 and Morgan who’s 17. Both girls were born on the same day, November 19, one year apart! We are an avid sports family. The girls did basketball, soccer and track while growing up and decided that soccer was their sport. They play for the Portland Thorns Academy team and travel to Portland for practices three to four times a week. They also travel through five states for league play and around the country for tournaments. It’s been quite the commitment. This dedication has created an opportunity for Lauren to play collegiate soccer at Boston University next year. Even though it’s all the way across the country, I’m excited for her. Morgan is following in her footsteps and has plans to play collegiate soccer as well. She’s still deciding where she wants to go. Hopefully she stays a little closer to home? Of course, we will support her wherever she chooses to go.

Most of our travels are tied to their soccer tournaments. Sometimes we’re together in a hotel room, sometimes they’re with their teammates and we only see them at the games. When we travel outside of soccer, we’re normally in the car, doing road trips/ camping/seeing various parts of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. As the girls have gotten older, their personalities have emerged and it’s fun to interact with them. While still being their parents, we enjoy spending time together.

Every family has its own traditions, rituals or inside jokes. What are some of yours? We have really honed traditions around the

holidays. For example, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are all hands on deck to prepare food for visiting family. Darin is the primary chef and the rest of us are his sous chefs. The meals are an event in themselves! At Christmas, we have a series of movies that we all sit together to watch while drinking hot apple cider. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one; I commandeer the TV for White Christmas.

When did you know you wanted to be a mom? Always. I’m the oldest of three girls, with my youngest sister seven years younger than I am. She was my “doll.” I’ve always loved children, and I flirted with the idea of being a pediatrician when I was in high school but decided to go another route. I knew when I met the right person and the timing was as right as it could be, we would be ready to be parents. As one of three kids, I knew that I wanted more than one child. With having my two so close together, almost raising them as twins, we had our plates full. My two younger sisters had their kids more recently and I’ve loved being around to help.

Has the pandemic changed the way you parent, beyond just the practical and logistical parts? If so, how? Both girls had one year (or was it one and a half years?!) of online school and that was an interesting shift in our house. We created spaces within the house for them to do their homework or Zoom calls. One would sit at the dining room table and the other would work out of her room or our den space. This required us to be more efficient with our time in the mornings: breakfast needed to be had before class; the girls needed to be dressed and somewhat presentable before the camera turned on with their teachers. I believe having the two of them together helped with the isolation that many kids suffered from who didn’t have someone to talk to face-to-face on a daily basis. That social aspect was challenging; I believe it brought my girls closer together. Knowing the girls could have their routines, could get their homework done and feed themselves, forced me to step back and realize that they were more than capable and I needed to trust that they could do what was needed. I didn’t need to constantly supervise at this age. Obviously, there were consequences if chores didn’t get done after “school” because during this 13 QA

MOMs Love Local

We love locally owned businesses, restaurants, places and organizations. Share your favorite…

…Coffee spots: Isaac’s Downtown and Happy Heart Coffee Company which is located on the Capitol Auto Group campus. Super convenient for me, plus they have great specials and the staff is wonderful. If you’re getting service work done, stop by for a fun treat.

…Scenic lookout: Cascade Head trail north of Lincoln City

…Place to get a good workout: Walking the hills in my neighborhood. Brutal!

...Place for kids to let off steam: High school track and soccer fields. Before the kids were in high school, we would go to Straub Middle School or Bush Park to kick the ball around and get some fresh air.

…Community events: Woodburn Tulip Festival. I always enjoyed taking the girls there for a photo opportunity when the tulips were in bloom. EZ Orchards is always a fun experience, to visit the fruit stand and to have a fresh bowl of strawberry shortcake with ice cream.

Date spots: Darin and I love to go wine tasting. There are so many great wineries within 20 minutes of Salem.


entire time, Darin and I were both going to work. Neither of our businesses closed during the pandemic.

Tell us about an achievement you’re proud of. My family is and always will be my first priority: supporting my girls through their endeavors, and supporting my husband with his business. I’m super proud of my girls. It’s a huge accomplishment for Lauren to play soccer in college at a Division I school on an athletic scholarship. Morgan is on the same journey. I’m not living vicariously through them, but proud of their perseverance and work ethic to get them to this point. Darin and I have raised two strong women who are determined to reach their goals.

Now tell us about one of your most humbling mom moments. With my girls being active in sports from a young age, there have been our share of broken bones. Most recently, Morgan broke her lower leg, down by the ankle during high school soccer practice. I took her to the ER, and I had to get a wheelchair to pick her up from the car to take her inside. She was in a lot of pain. While she’s in the wheelchair, I manage to run her broken leg into the wall in the waiting room. Okay, run is a strong word, but I definitely bumped her, and then to add insult to injury, I giggled. I was embarrassed with how klutzy I was and felt horrible about it. The strain of the day caused the giggles to emerge. Needless to say, Morgan did not find that funny. Humbling?! I try to take such care of my girls, and I run one of them into the wall. Whoops!

In what way are your children like you? How are they different? The girls are like me in that they are hard working and give their best effort at their school and sports. They are helpful, smart and a little bit stubborn like me. Although, I think they got the stubborn streak more from their dad than me. That stubbornness can be a positive thing; they don’t settle on something until they are satisfied with the outcome. How are they different? They are driven with their soccer careers. The sports programs they have been involved in have impacted their self-confidence. Darin played baseball through his youth, high school and into a Division I program in college. He took the lessons he learned to help the girls to be mentally tough as well as confident in their abilities. I didn’t have that driving force or influence as a kid. From these experiences, I hope that the girls continue to grow in their selfconfidence and believe they can accomplish whatever they set out to do. Life isn’t easy and through the challenges they face, nothing is too difficult that they cannot overcome, even if it means asking for help from time to time.

No one works harder than mom.

We know that being a mom is a full-time job. How do you balance (or not) motherhood, activities, work, volunteering, household responsibilities, and life in general? What sometimes falls through the cracks? I had a wonderful support system that helped me with the girls when they were younger. I had lots of pictures (video wasn’t quite the thing at that point) to record the events of

MOM's Favorite...

Tell us about your favorite…

Family game: Euchre. It’s a fast-paced card game for four people involving strategy, skill and luck.

…Place to find peace and quiet: Silver Falls, our own local rainforest

…Binge-worthy TV: Ted Lasso, not only for the soccer humor but the life lessons

…Way to get out of dinner: “It’s the kids’ turn, they need life skills practice.”

Inspirational quote: “When a door closes, a window opens.” In other words, be prepared to look beyond the obvious when something doesn’t happen the way I want. There’s usually a better option, something that I didn’t think about, that’s around the corner.

Time-saving app: If you have children in team sports, TeamSnap is a wonderful phone app for keeping schedules updated and communication between players/ parents/coaches in a timely manner. 15

the day and I had a recap every day when I picked up the girls. If I could do one thing over, it would be to spend more time with them at home while they were little.

I think back on my childhood and I don’t remember a lot of what I did growing up…I took care of my younger sisters, spent time outside and read books. The one memory that sticks out for me is my mom, always sitting at the front step, waiting for me after school to ask about my day. I believe I was in fourth or fifth grade, and I had about a 15-minute walk from my elementary school with a couple of neighbor kids. It was this memory that I wanted to have for my girls: being there at the end of the school day to hear about what they did. Working at Capitol allowed me that flexibility. Many days, I would get the girls out of school a few minutes early to make it to soccer practice. I typically didn’t carpool in those days, because selfishly, I wanted that car time with my girls. I tried to make the most of every minute.

I also try to make some alone time through reading, going for walks and having dinner dates with Darin or spending time with friends. I will admit that this is something I still struggle with. It’s hard to remember that I must take care of me, to be able to properly take care of others.

Tell us about your work outside of the home. I’ve worked at Capitol Auto Group for 21 years. I have worked several areas over the years, with the last 10 as the executive assistant, which means I do a little bit of everything and support everyone. Capitol

is a fourth-generation family business, and the Casebeers are a great family to work for. They have allowed me the flexibility to support my family outside of work which makes me extremely loyal to Capitol.

If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy.

Tell us about your upbringing. How did it shape the mother you are today? I grew up in a small town in southeast Iowa. My mom is from Mexico City, and my dad is from eastern Iowa, so I grew up with two cultures. I visited my family in Mexico City about every 18 months growing up. I got to know my extended family on my mom’s side quite well. I know my sense of family comes from those experiences.

My mom is a very generous person with her time, heart and mind. She’s a strong influence on who I am today. She volunteered her time with the Mexican community in my town by serving as an interpreter when needed with various businesses in town. My dad was a prominent businessman who has supported the community through Rotary, church and city works. Both provided me with a strong sense of supporting others. Growing up with two cultures provided me a sense of world knowledge outside of my little town both the similarities and the differences.

What is special about where you grew up? Looking back, Iowa was a great place to grow up. It was also a great time — no social media, limited use of cellphones — the connections people made were

face-to-face. We learned to look someone in the eyes when talking to them. The genuine and sincere care people have for their neighbors in my small town was invaluable. This is probably one of the most important life skills my parents taught me, to have this sincerity with people. It doesn’t cost anything, and it goes such a long way.

What are three words your best friend would use to describe you? Genuine, empathetic and patient

What are three words your kids would use to describe you? Supportive, motivating (although that may have been tongue in cheek) and sincere

If you could instantly have one new skill, what would it be? To be fluent in Spanish. I can understand probably 85% but I would love to be fluent in reading/writing and conversation specifically. If the skill was tied into a superpower, I would say that I would love to sing. Music played a strong influence in my youth, and I still really enjoy it. You’ll find my phone blaring when I’m doing projects at the office or at the house.

Name one thing that is part of your daily routine that you just can’t live without. Reading. I usually have three books I’m reading simultaneously at any given time. I can get caught up in a book and read for hours at night, long past when I go to bed. I’ve tried to change things up and read for about 15 minutes while enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or carve out a little time before going to bed. I’ve been setting a


timer so I know when to close the book for the night. So far, I’m doing well about 50% of the time.

It’s Saturday afternoon and you suddenly find yourself at home alone for a few hours (we know, it never happens). What do you do? When I have the rare afternoon with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I combine my guilty pleasure of a glass of red wine and dark chocolate with a Hallmark movie on TV. What is your least/most favorite household chore? Least favorite: vacuuming. I dislike lugging the machine back and forth, cleaning out the canister and cleaning out the roller at the bottom.

Favorite chore: I like mowing the lawn. The smell of cut grass and how the yard looks after the trim — nice and tidy! Planting flowers and herbs in pots to go on the front and back decks adds a pop of color and brightens up my day whenever I look out the window.

Listen to mom.

Is motherhood what you expected? What surprised you the most? Some aspects I expected, like the snuggles and hugs from your kids, as well as the struggles with late nights and no sleep, and figuring out how to take care of sick kids. What surprised me was how we raised the girls basically at the same time, yet how different they are. They have similarities, but different styles of communication in how they each want to receive information. I’m taking what I’ve learned from work about different personalities and how to communicate to get the best outcome.

What advice would you give your younger self? What works today might not work tomorrow and that’s okay. Just be patient. Stick with your core values; you might have to deviate in how something gets done, or when it gets done, but look at the big picture. So long as it does get it done, that’s okay. Sometimes if you push too hard, it will backfire. Remember to be a parent first — you can't be their friend when the parent role is needed. Your job is to support and nourish your kids while still preparing them for real life.


Is my breastfed baby getting enough to eat?

As a breastfeeding parent, it’s important for you to be able to recognize the signs that your baby is getting enough to eat. Here are some signs to look for:

Hearing your baby swallow frequently during feeding and feeling your breast get softer after nursing indicate that your baby is actively consuming milk.

You can also observe your baby’s diaper output; a breastfed baby should have frequent wet and dirty diapers, with stool turning yellow by the time they are 4 days old.

Weight gain also shows your newborn is getting enough. Your baby’s health care team will track their weight at regular check-ups.

Finally, pay attention to your baby’s feeding cues. Feed your baby as often as they want. A wellfed infant is usually satisfied, relaxed and sleepy after a successful feeding.

If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your health care provider or lactation consultant for help. They can provide guidance and support to help make sure that your baby is getting the nourishment they need to grow and thrive.

For more information about Salem Health lactation resources, call 503-814-4539 or visit


to you
more 19
by Salem Health Family Birth Center. Learn

So you want to write a book…

Ah yes, the dream of writing the great American novel. Few actually follow through with it and even fewer reach publication. But it didn’t stop these moms, and it shouldn’t stop you either, especially as self-publishing has busted through many barriers of old school publication.

But getting started and finding the time to write can be a challenge. You can’t let your toddler sit in a dirty pull-up while you pursue your big dreams. Still, there are ways to make it work. These local authors have advice for other moms who are just starting out.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. How do I start?

Dineen: As simple as it sounds, just sit down and write. Get your idea onto paper (or computer) without worrying about anything else.

Hart: Read Lisa Cron’s Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel. It’s a brilliant book that guides writers step-by-step to complete a manuscript. For memoir writers, pick up a copy of Regina Brooks’ excellent You Should Really Write a Book: How to Write, Sell and Market Your Memoir.

DeMocker: Start with an idea you’re passionate about. My book rattled around in my brain for three years until a coach suggested a format for ideas she’d heard me explore.

What if I don’t have the degree/training/ background to be a writer?

Dineen: So what? I didn’t get my degree in writing. I never thought I could be a writer, but one day the voices started talking and I let them. In fact, I did more than that, I took dictation. That was thirty-five books ago.

Hart: While it’s essential to have a solid knowledge of grammar and punctuation, you don’t need a master’s degree in creative writing to be a writer. You just need a great idea and a commitment to writing a book.

DeMocker: I’d planned to go for an MFA in writing once my kids were in school, but between the demands of parenting and the expense of an MFA, I instead designed my own slow, customized and affordable study. I signed up for conferences, retreats, local classes, contests and critique groups. I have no regrets — and no grad school debt.


How do you find time to write when you have small children?

Hart: If you write a page a day for 365 days, you’ve got yourself a novel. I’ve written in and outside of my daughter’s dance studio for a decade. I’ve written at playgrounds, early in the morning, late at night, during naptime…you can do so much work in 10 minutes.

Dineen: You write early in the morning, late at night, during naptime. The truth is you aren’t going to be as prolific when you’re taking care of young kids, but as they grow up and get into school, you’ll have more time. Everything in its season.

DeMocker: Sometimes I got more done with young kids than I did later with older kids, because I knew if I didn’t write in those small writing slots then I wouldn’t have another chance until the next babysitter, school day or solo weekend retreat. I wrote while kids were in childcare, at school and in the evenings after bedtime. I also signed up for writing retreats at Colonyhouse (in Rockaway Beach) which helped tremendously.

When I find a moment of time to write, my brain pulls me back to things I should be doing instead, like laundry. Help!

Hart: I feel two ways about housework and other mundane tasks. First, I do some of my best thinking about my writing when I’m scrubbing the toilet or cleaning the refrigerator, and I always keep a notebook nearby or dictate my thoughts into my phone. But if you’ve got a really limited time to write, allow the laundry to pile up a bit. Your creativity and mental health are vital, and what a wonderful gift to give your kids by showing them how you’re honoring your passion for storytelling! They’ll remember this passion long after they remember having to wear the same pair of socks two days in a row.

Dineen: I’m not one of those authors who enforces writing time. My goal is to hit three thousand words a day but if the muse isn’t cooperating I do something else. I find that when I’m in the groove, I couldn’t care less about the laundry.

DeMocker: Get out of the house! And get a deadline. Deadlines tend to scare laundry into submission. I wrote in bookstores and coffee shops, often with other writers who also had kids.

Okay, I wrote something but I need help making it better. How and where do I go for that?

Hart: There are a couple of different ways to get feedback on your writing. You can join a writing organization such as Willamette Writers, Wordcrafters in Eugene or the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and ask for help finding a writing group; in this type of group, you’ll read and comment on other writers’ works, and they’ll read and comment on yours. Or you can hire a professional editor.

Dineen: Join critique groups. Facebook is full of groups for all genres of authors. These are great places to meet other people who are in the same boat as you.

DeMocker: Don’t overlook friends, family, and neighbors. I had an informal “team” of people who offered to read my drafts, and then consistently gave good feedback. It’s a gift when people take that kind of time.

I finished it! Now what?

DeMocker: If you have thumbs up from readers you trust, including yourself, look

Will anyone care about what I’ve written? What if I’m no good?

Hart: Someone’s always going to care about what you’ve written. At the very least, your kids will care. My mother was a journalist and an author, and I treasure her short stories and articles. Also, who gets to determine what’s “good?” Sometimes, I’ll try to read a bestselling novel, and I’ll give up because it doesn’t resonate with me. Everyone — readers, editors, literary agents — has vastly different tastes in storytelling. If you work hard and hone your craft, you’ll find an audience that appreciates your work.

Dineen: If you’re like me, you’re writing a book because you have a story to tell. Don’t censor yourself while you’re doing it. There will always be critics, but if you believe in your story, and are willing to take the necessary steps, you will find your audience.

DeMocker: People care about stories that move them in some way. Work on expressing yourself authentically. Work on the craft of scene writing and dialogue. Learn how to research. Read a lot of great writing. Writing is a life-long practice, and you will get better

for an agent or contest (but don’t pay for either). If your book is nonfiction, write a book proposal, not the whole book. If it’s a novel, memoir, or picture book, write the whole thing before pitching agents or editors.

Hart: You can opt to publish independently, you can find a literary agent who will work to sell your finished manuscript, or you can shop it around to the editors of small and mid-sized literary publishers by yourself. There are so many ways to publish your work these days. You can also opt to work with a hybrid publisher such as Eugene’s Luminare Press; they offer copy editing, assistance with format and book cover, marketing, etc.

Dineen: It’s time to hire an editor! Whether you’re looking for a traditional publishing house or you’re going to self-publish, readers want to read a book free of errors. Your book should be developmentally as well as grammatically sound.

by working at it. It’s key to truly listen when trusted readers give you the gift of their honest, thoughtful feedback.

I need an illustrator. How do I find one?

Hart: If you’re publishing traditionally, your team will match you with an illustrator. If you’re publishing independently, you might browse illustrator portfolios at a site like or and hire someone from there. Word of mouth and social media inquiries work well, and if there’s an illustrator whose work you adore, you can always contact them and ask for recommendations.

DeMocker: Your publisher will usually find your illustrator, though people also collaborate with friends. I invited my niece to illustrate four pages of my book, and it was an enjoyable challenge for both of us. 21
“Don’t censor yourself while you’re writing. There will always be critics, but if you believe in your will find your audience.”

I’m ready to publish! Uh, how do I do that, exactly?

Dineen: It depends if you want to self-publish or traditionally publish. Many people think that traditional publishing is the way to go and that you’ll make more money. That has not been my experience. Traditional publishers no longer give new authors big advertising budgets. In fact, they expect the author to do their own advertising. Additionally, advances are not what they used to be. Five thousand dollars tends to be standard for newbies and middle list authors alike. That money goes fast, especially as you have to wait months/years before your book is actually published and royalties roll in, if they roll in . By self-publishing, I control how quickly my books come out, on what channels they’re released and who I market them to. The bottom line is that 99% of the time there’s no money in one book. So for me, the faster I release, the bigger the payout.

DeMocker: Take a class, attend a conference, hire a coach. For the traditional publishing route, most writers pitch an agent with either the first 50 pages of a novel/memoir or with a nonfiction book proposal. Some writers directly pitch editors at publishing houses. Others self-publish.

I did it! I published my book online and now the money will rain down upon me, right? When do I get an agent who gets me a Hollywood script deal?

DeMocker: This happens sometimes to hardworking, lucky authors with books that resonate with readers. Usually, though, selfpublished books are hard for audiences to find because there are so many of them. Most writers don’t earn money from books, so it’s important to enter into a book project with clarity about why you’re doing it. If you need money, you’ll find more efficient, reliable ways of earning (like getting a job). If, however, you’re in love with a story or passionate about an issue, and a book is the best way to share it with the world, it may be a wise choice — as long as you’re not relying on it for income.

Hart: It’s vital to start marketing your book six months to a year before it’s published. Think about your ideal audience and how best to reach them. Do they listen to podcasts? Read blogs? Attend regular events?

A year before my newest middle-grade novel Daisy Woodworm Changes the World came out, I put a media kit up on my website.

Because one of my main characters has Down syndrome, based on my brother, I reached out to hundreds of people connected with this particular demographic, from podcasters and magazine editors, to social media influencers and the directors of nonprofits. I’ve done numerous interviews and school and library visits related to the book because of all of my outreach well before it ever went to print.

Dineen: If you’re going into writing for insta-fame, your chances of that happening are akin to winning the lottery. Before publishing the book, I would recommend taking advertising courses online because no matter how you publish, you need to know how to find your audience. And you have to pay to do that through ads. Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram are where most of us find our readers. Join groups and build your tribe. Engage with bookstagrammers and booktockers. Start a website and consider blogging to help build your readership. Start a newsletter. I didn’t get movie studio interest until my fourth romantic comedy. Then I got a lot. And while that was very exciting, no movie has been made yet.

How do I go about promoting my book?

Hart: First, decide whether your story will educate people, inspire them, entertain them, or all three. Once you’ve identified how it will be of service to readers, this frees you up to start boldly promoting your work. Use social media. If you’re good with witty one-liners, use Twitter and Facebook. If you’re great on camera, use TikTok and Instagram stories. Ask if you can do

readings and workshops at your local library, nonprofits, bookstores, etc. Attend writing conferences, remote and in-person, and talk up your book and learn about other people’s books, as well. Write short articles and personal essays related to the themes/ topics in your book, and publish them in newspapers and magazines. I love helping authors to create and execute a marketing plan!

Dineen: Most people think their friends and family are going to be their biggest advocates, and all they have to do is write the book and everyone who knows them will buy it. Yes, there will be people excited for you, and yes they may order a book or two, but the long-term promotion is down to you. You need to learn how to place ads and be prepared to spend money to do so. It can be frustrating and there’s a lot of trial and error, but it’s the process. People can’t buy your book if they don’t know about it.

DeMocker: Six months before publication, start researching publications, media outlets and organizations that might appreciate your message or story. Make a clear marketing plan and reserve time weekly to follow through on it. The book’s audience will grow the more you engage your target audience with a great story or with solutions they need.

Any other advice?

Hart: Own your stories. Yes, the writer’s life can be difficult; there’s a lot of rejection, a lot of anxiety. But when you’re deep in the midst of creating fiction or nonfiction, none of that matters. Your story is important; it


deserves to be told. Find a support group in person or online — people who can relate to the complicated emotions that emerge when you set out to write, people who cheer you on and bring you cookies when you’ve experienced a setback. I love what the people at A Very Important Meeting are doing; you can sign up for an hour-long online session with other writers from around the world. It’s a wonderful way to meet people at all stages of their writing careers, from authors with several books to absolute beginners.

DeMocker: Be curious and playful in your writing. Hang out with other writers. Read voraciously.

Dineen: All of this may sound a bit overwhelming. It’s not my intention to dissuade you from your dreams by making publishing sound like an insurmountable task. But like anything, it’s a lot of hard work and a steep learning curve. Don’t expect to learn everything all at once. Day by day, step by step and you’ll eventually get there. The most important thing is to have fun with your writing. That’s the part of this whole thing that makes the tough stuff worth doing.

About the authors

Melissa Hart is the author of Avenging the Owl, Daisy Woodworm Changes the World, as well as Better with Books: 500 Diverse Books to Ignite Empathy and Encourage Self-Acceptance in Tweens and Teens. She lives in Eugene with her husband and teen daughter.

Mary DeMocker is the author of The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep. She lives in Eugene with her daughter and partner.

Whitney Dineen has published over 35 novels, the most recent as part of the Seven Brides for Seven Mothers series. She lives in Albany with her two daughters, husband and goldendoodle. 23 DONATE BY PHONE Use your phone's camera Assistance League Salem-Keizer is a charitable, all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. Fed ID # 93-6030372 Thank you to all that have volunteered, donated or shopped in our shops. Because of you, we are able to continue our mission of strengthening our community. Smiling faces because of you. Ways you can help... Become a member Shop the Daue House Gift Shop or Encore Furniture. Consign your gently used items Learn more at

You started out the school year thinking you’d do like those influencers with their adorable flower-shaped sandwiches and bento boxes…then real life set in.

Now as we near the end of the school year, your enthusiasm for packing school lunches has run as dry as that PB&J your kid keeps bringing home uneaten. Use these main course ideas to carry you to summer break. They can all be made the day before, are reasonably healthy and are easy on your budget.

Are you kidding? No one does this. At least, no one we know in real life. How would this even survive a backpack transport to school?

box blues

Kid-friendly quesadillas

8 large flour tortillas

2 - 3 cups shredded chedder cheese

2 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

½ tsp salt

Put black beans in a microwave-safe container, then stir in basil, oregano and salt. Cover and microwave on high for two minutes, stopping midway to stir. Set aside.

Heat a pan on medium and coat with cooking spray. Place a tortilla in the pan, then immediately add ¼ cup black beans and about ⅓ cup shredded cheese to one side of the tortilla. Flip the tortilla closed and press with a spatula to make a seal as the cheese melts. Turn the quesadilla over to heat the other side. These cook quickly, and while it’s tempting to turn up the heat, don’t: it makes burn spots.

Repeat this process until all have been made. Use a pizza cutter to divide them into thirds, then refrigerate. If your child likes salsa, add a small side of it to their lunch box.

What was dinner becomes lunch

These leftovers taste great cold. Your groggy morning self will be glad if you set them aside the previous evening, in lunch containers that are ready to go.

• Grilled cheese sandwiches

• Spring rolls

• Pizza

• Roasted potatoes

• Chicken nuggets

• Yakisoba noodles

• Steak bites

• Pasta

Pinwheel wraps

Flour tortillas: try the sun-dried tomato basil ones for something different

Deli turkey

Cheese slices of your choosing



Optional: pepper or other seasoning like Everything But the Bagel

Lay out a tortilla and spread with hummus. Layer the meat and cheese, then add lettuce. If your kid likes a little seasoning, shake it on.

Roll up the tortilla snug, then cut into 2-inch circles. Lay each pinwheel flat in a lunch container.

DIY lunchables

Cubed salami or summer sausage

Cheese sliced into squares

Whole-wheat crackers

Dried mango or pear slices

Pre-peeled clementine

Arrange each item into a divided container.

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Rubbermaid's LunchBlox offer sturdy reusability. We like how they snap into their ice tray: no more jumbled up items that don’t get properly cooled. 25



Where we live, family life is dependent on our cars. From grocery pick up, to work, to taking the kids to school and sports practice, most moms have zero amount of time to devote to recovering from any kind of auto theft.

And auto thefts are on the rise: it may have slowed during the pandemic, but it more than bounced back. In fact, Oregon was ranked fifth in the nation for car thefts in 2021.

Catalytic converter theft

A popular theft lately is of catalytic converters. Many drivers aren’t aware they’ve been a victim until they start their cars and notice an unusual roaring sound, increase in exhaust and/or a sputtering as they drive. The converters contain high value precious metals that thieves sell for cash, and according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, catalytic converter thefts increased 1,215% between 2019 and 2022.

Consider anti-theft measures for your car’s catalytic converter, such as painting, etching or having a protection shield installed.

There are numerous ways to protect yourself. Maintaining your own situational awareness is key, plus:

• Warming up your car? You’d better stay in it, with doors locked. Thieves have been known to brazenly steal running cars right out of driveways on a workday morning.

• Your purse: do not leave it in the car. Same goes for diaper bags, which can look purse-like and tempt thieves. When experts say to keep valuables out of your parked vehicles, they mean it. Not hidden under seats or coats.

• Lock your doors. This simple act could be what keeps your life humming along, or going without wheels and through a lengthy reporting process. If you worry about a rare emergency event, keep a window breaker tool in your glove box.

• Park in well-lit places. Your secured garage is preferred, but we know garages often become catchalls for yard tools, toys and more. If your vehicle sits overnight in your driveway, install motion lights and cameras.

• Park away from bushes, trees or other objects that obscure the sight lines. This deters thieves (as well as critters that like to take up refuge under the hood).

• Put a GPS tracker in your vehicle. These tiny devices can be purchased for about $30, though note that some require annual subscriptions.

• Do not store your vehicle title in your car. Or credit card information, your wallet or work lanyards/ID cards.

• Watch for anyone following you home. A recent and frightening theft is to catch a person off guard as they pull up into their driveway or garage.

The overarching theme here is taking precautions before you have to deal with any of the fallout. It’s worth the effort to keep your car — and your life — running smoothly.

Sources: Car and Driver, National Insurance Crime Bureau


Laura Augustine has worked as a finance assistant at Capitol Auto Group for 7 years. She is the proud mom of three kids (four, if you count her husband Chad): Ariel, age 23; Claudia, age 22; and Bryson, age 18. As a family, they love to go fishing and boating at Detroit Lake, and they also have four Saint Bernard Dogs: Grace, Ted, Jerry and Stuart.

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